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Problem deadly for black men

| Thursday, July 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The sand tiger shark can be found in beach waters in North America. It can grow to about 11 feet in length and has a menacing look because of rows of razor-like teeth.

Sand tigers are hunted by man and other sharks. Although they are considered mostly peaceful, many people fear them because they are sharks, after all. Even when they're just swimming along close to shore and meaning no harm, other fish and people probably can't wait to get on the other side of the ocean.

The sand tiger shark also has this habit of eating its siblings as embryos, even before they're born and have a chance to grow to their potential. Sand tigers are considered an endangered species by some conservation groups, so they are hard to find, unless they are in captivity. They are the most commonly kept species of sharks in aquariums.

If there were a list for endangered humans, black males would surely be at the top of the list. Black males have enemies, and you might be expecting me to say that George Zimmerman is one of them. But he isn't. Yes, he shot and killed a young black male. Would he have followed a young white male around his neighborhood? Not likely.

Still, while he may have racially profiled Trayvon Martin, it was more Zimmerman's poor decision-making that led to Martin's death. The enemy of the black male is the fear of the species.

Despite all the assaults on the 17-year-old's character, there is little debate that all he was doing just before he ended up tussling with Zimmerman was walking down the street talking on a cell phone. He had no weapons, only Skittles. Interesting, too, that While most of us would agree that most 17-year-olds are rash, impetuous and do stupid things, we also tend to assume it's a temporary condition. No benefit of the doubt for Martin, though. Now, of course, we'll never know how Martin would have turned out.

Black males face a bigger problem that chips away at their population, and that is an ability to take each other out at alarming rates. Yes, white-on-black, or black-on-white, or Hispanic-on-black cases tend to draw more media circuses. But there are stories at least weekly in the Tribune-Review and on the TV news about black men killing each other. Sometimes it's to the point where it doesn't warrant more than a brief or a blurb on the news. It's even worse in places such as Chicago and Baltimore.

There have already been two local rallies to protest the Zimmerman verdict, including one Wednesday that involved no violence. Anyone attacking others in retribution has clearly missed the point.

If you have had occasion to protest the verdict or the handling of the case — as you should — make sure you also protest the fratricide facing black males as well. In 2010, 40 black men were murdered in Pittsburgh — more than any other racial group by far — and 32 black males were charged with homicide, according to city statistics.

A life taken, no matter the color of the hand that takes it, is still a life lost and a hole in the fabric of a family.

So in the public debate over the death of Trayvon Martin, please remember the other, larger threat facing the endangered black male species: the one from within.

Nafari Vanaski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8669, or on Twitter @NafariTrib.

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